Now that you have learned more about the educational ways to being a good stream steward, you can put that knowledge to work through actions. Below are some simple strategies for putting good stewardship philosophies into practice on your property:

Protect the stream and adjacent riparian areas on your property.

When possible, preserve the natural beauty of the stream by selecting actions that minimize impacts to the stream and adjacent riparian areas.

Keeping a natural buffer area between maintained turf and the stream will help to preserve the natural functions of the stream.

Monitor your stream for changes to the stream and riparian corridor.

Regularly monitoring can be as easy as observing and recording where the water is reaching on your property, as well as the types and amounts of wildlife and plant species on your property. The water quality can be something scientifically tested, or it can just be visual observations of what is living and growing in the stream. All of these will help identify issues and needs along your property. Pictures are great ways to record the monitoring and having a historical record of pictures about your property will help you and others to understand how the stream is working.

The flow of a stream can change dramatically with the seasons.
Keeping a record of these changes is easy but important.

Support your local coalitions that work to protect your watershed.

Left Hand Watershed Center, BTWC, LTWC and SVCC work hard to engage private landowners such as yourself to promote comprehensive approaches that improve watershed health and the communities within them.

Working with your local watershed coalition or organization is a great way to have a positive impact on the larger watershed.

Be neighborly and work together towards a common goal.

As part of being a good steward is considering the larger area beyond your property limits, it makes sense to work with your neighbors to improve the overall watershed health. This can range from simply sharing advice on weed control techniques, to making a project that spans multiple properties, to creating a conservation easement that pools resources for large projects.

Participating in watershed coalition events and workshops is a great way to meet neighbors and learn what they do to be good stewards

Take on small stewardship projects before a situation worsens.

As you monitor your property, continually consider if there are small projects that will help the situation. These small projects can range from invasive weed management, to culvert maintenance, to willow plantings to stabilize a streambank. More time spent monitoring your property and making small improvements generally means less time and money will need to be spent on large recovery efforts after flood events. See ‘Chapter 2: Evaluating Your Property’ to assess your property and ‘Chapter 3: Stewardship and Recovery Strategies’ to learn about stewardship and recovery strategies you can use.

Being diligent about removing trash in and near the stream channel will reduce the amount of debris in a flood.

Avoid dumping lawn clippings in or near the stream. They contain mineral nutrients which decrease oxygen for fish.

Planting willow stakes above the high water level in the outer bend of this stream will stabilize the streambank while improving water quality and aquatic habitat.

Ask for help before taking on large recovery or restoration projects. Ask for help before taking on large recovery or restoration projects.

Often, these projects will require engineering/design and permitting assistance both to adhere to legal requirements and to ensure your project does not have a negative impact on other properties. This includes any work in the stream channel itself and will ensure that upstream and downstream effects of the project are beneficial. You can talk to your local watershed coalition, city or county agencies, or consultants such as engineers, geomorphologists, environmental scientists or contractors. Types of outside help and how to engage them are discussed more in ‘Chapter 4: Engaging Outside Help’. When in doubt about if your project or action will have impacts, reach out for help and advice.

Performing work in the stream channel will require permits and sometimes engineering depending on the type of work. These regulations are put in place to protect the stream system, as well as streamside landowners such as yourself.

Depending on wildlife impacts and the funding source of your project, you may be required to obtain permits before beginning work.